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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bathroom Blogfest and Measurement

Measurement originally uploaded by thespacesuitcatalyst.
Day 4 of the Bathroom Blogfest. The focus today is on Measurement.

After all, it's important to understand how strongly people feel about the bathroom experience as well as evaluate how well the bathroom itself measures up to expectations.

Let's start with America's Best Restroom Award from Cintas. In describing the award, Cintas says:

"The reality is that public restrooms matter to the public. The way a business or building treats its facilities is a reflection of its operating standards.

In one recent survey, more than 75% of respondents said they would not return to a restaurant if the restrooms were not well kept."

Powerful words!

The award has been in place since 2002. You can view the Best Restroom Hall of Fame and also take the Cintas survey to contribute your view on the bathroom experience!

In the United Kingdom, it's the Loo of the Year Award. [Also check out the Wikipedia entry for Loo of the Year Award.] Introduced in 1987, its goal is to "focus the spotlight on 'away from home' toilets throughout the UK.... to encourage the highest possible standards in all types of 'away from home' or public toilets. ...Everyone has a shared responsibility to make this happen - toilet providers, managers, washroom suppliers, contractors, staff, visitors and customers - all toilet users."

With fifty seven separate Awards categories, bathrooms from anywhere in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are eligible. The award received 1500 entries for 2007; winners will be announced in December.

I'm grateful to Joe Moran and his 3/12/07 article The secrets of indoor shopping for the lead. By the way, his article offers a fascinating view on the evolution of malls in the UK with the largest growth in retail construction since 1991 taking place in urban centers. Interestingly, loitering in the new malls is purposely discouraged simply by offering no seats. Seems counterintuitive to me, especially in a world gravitating toward lifestyle centers. You'll note interesting contrasts between British and U.S. retail habits, and references to Paco Underhill.

About the ladiesrooms, he says: "The toilets in the new malls seem intentionally out of the way, forcing you to pass as many window displays as possible. The signs steer you subtly around corners and into less accessible areas.... (Arndale's new loos are all chrome and marble surrounds - worthy winners at the Loo of the Year Awards 2006.) Essential bodily functions are well catered for in the modern mall; inessential ones, like having to sit down, less so."

Take the notion of measuring and evaluation the bathroom experience in a city and place it into a mobile context. The result? MizPee. "MizPee finds the closest, cleanest toilet and gives you entertaining reading material once you get there. Since the service is cell phone-based, it's always with you, when you really need it." Start with San Francisco, though. Anywhere else and you're on your own for now. [Thank you David Polinchock!]

The experience is just as important to university students. Writing on 5/2/05, in Wash U. bathrooms: a hidden science, Sarah Ulrey describes the WU Bathrooms website which evaluates campus bathrooms. You'll notice rankings for ambiance, cleanliness and facilities.

Finally, I spoke last week with George Badner, Sales Manager, from Downtown Carpet One Floor & Home located at 720 East Sprague Ave in Spokane, WA. He described a wonderful promotion his flooring store did this past summer called "The Ugly Bathroom Contest."

Summertime being such a slow time, it's perfect for experimenting, especially with something that the store owner had tried approx. 15 years ago - with success.

Downtown Carpet One Floor & Home is conveniently located next to Lite Rock KISS 98.1 FM which promoted the contest on its morning radio show this past June for approximately two weeks. July 2nd, George says, they picked a winner on the air. It was fantastic!

In the process, listeners sent in photos and emails, they dropped by the store, they stopped to talk about their projects, their bathrooms and their dreams. Kitchens and bathrooms get used everyday, says George. Converting these spaces into beautiful, user-friendly spaces radically improves someone's standard of living.

These photos are some of the uglier entries sent in. Oh, my!

I couldn't help but ask George about his store bathrooms. They sound beautiful with radiant heat - slate in the mensroom; off white floor and wall tiles in the ladiesrooms. They help generate conversation and ideas.

Do yours measure up? I hope so.

From Kate Rutter: Why I love my completely inefficient bathroom
From Sandy Renshaw: Wordless Wednesday: Hotel Bathroom in Chennai, India
From Katia Adams: The Bathroom Experience
From Kate Rutter: Office Bathrooms as key indicators of team culture
From Becky Carroll: Bathroom Blogfest: Luxury Disney
From Stephanie Weaver: Bathroom Blogfest: Special touches and attention to detail
From Anna Farmery: Bathroom Blogfest - Loo Must Be Joking!

Participating in the 2007 Bathroom Blogfest are:

Kate Rutter—Adaptive Path
Laurence Helene Borel—Blog Till You Drop
Iris Shreve Garrott—checking out and checking in
Susan Abbott—Customer Experience Crossroads
Maria Palma—Customers Are Always
Becky Carroll—Customers Rock!
Toby Bloomberg—Diva Marketing
Stephanie Weaver—Experienceology
Linda Tischler—Fast Company Now
C.B. Whittemore—Flooring the Consumer
Ed Pell—K+B DeltaVee
Helene Blowers—Library Bytes
Claudia Schiepers—Life and its little pleasures
Katie Clark—Practical Katie
Sandra Renshaw—Purple Wren
Reshma Anand—Qualitative Research
Marianna Hayes—Results Revolution
Carolyn Townes—Spirit Women
Sara Cantor—The Curious Shopper
Anna Farmery—The Engaging Brand
Dee McCrorey—The Ultimate Corporate Entrepreneur
Katia S. Adams—Transcultural
Katie Konrath-Get Fresh Minds
Jennifer Brite-Kitchen and Bath Business

Don't forget to check the Bathroom Blogfest group site.

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